After a couple of weeks of uncertain weather, the prospect of a 24 hour mountain bike race looked more than a little daunting, but with a few days to go a dry weather window appeared in the forecasts to coincide with the race.
WVCC had several members competing:
- Muddy Marvels – a vets team consisting of Vic Barnett, Nik Kershaw, Adrian Killworth and Steve Coulam
- Father Ted – an open male team consisting of Rob Moore, Neil Doherty, Hans Van Nierop and Tom Medley
- Dean Barnett, who was instrumental in bringing the race to Marston Lodge was drafted into an organisers team – Team Marston Lodge.
- Simon Dixey competed in the wide open category for larger teams as part of Beetroot Bombers.
- Kevin Mills entered the nutters – sorry solo male – category.
There were also many other friends and rivals from other local clubs.
Marston Lodge was fantastic venue with steeper climbs and descents than you would think possible in Northamptonshire. There was a mixture of woodland singletrack, fire roads, grassy fields and field edges to challenge the riders on the 9km lap.
The race started at midday on Saturday in hot sunshine with a Le Mans start which saw riders running for a few hundred metres to pick up their bikes before heading out for the first lap, the faster teams sprinting for advantage and the solo competitors walking – this was a race where the margins would be measured in laps!
The Muddy Marvels team began with a one-lap changeover strategy to get everyone into the race and to cope with the heat, while The Father Ted team started with a two-lap changeover to give the riders a longer rest. The solo riders just had to suffer in the heat and slow down.
As the race progressed the Muddy Marvels switched to a two-lap changeover for the evening and then disaster struck as Nik was brought down by another rider. He was out of the race with a badly cut arm and mild concussion (and a cracked helmet). He managed to complete his lap and hand over to Adrian, but the team were down to three, just in time for the night shift. This was going to be tough. A quick decision was made to go to a three-lap changeover overnight to maximise rest time. This was hard going though and the third laps were slow. Team Father Ted just carried on with their two-lap strategy. The course was cutting up now, with leaf mulch surrendering to knobbly tyres and exposing roots in the woods and the temperature plummeted as darkness fell. It had also now become an eating competition as the riders battled their diurnal rhythms to force food down to fuel and refuel in the middle of the night with sleepy digestive systems leading to stomach problems – all part of the challenge!
Muddy Marvels were back to two laps as it got light. What a race – seeing the sun rise over the hills and the dawn chorus cheering the riders on in the woods. Team Father Ted went to one-lap changeovers for the finish to maximise speed and give everyone equal laps as Muddy Marvels did the same – and in a competitive flourish changed the rider order and sent out their fastest rider – the man-machine Vic Barnett – on the penultimate lap to ensure an additional lap – and to gain a place – as any lap started before the 24 hours was up counted.
Was it hard? Yes!
Was it fun? Hell, yes!
Will we be back next year? Try and stop us!
A total of 7,587 race laps were completed by all riders. A distance of 68,283km or 1.7 circumnavigations of The Earth!
WVCC results were as follows:
- Muddy Marvels – 13th vets team completing 37 laps in 24:35:01 with an average lap time of 39:32. Nik Kershaw completed 4 laps before his crash and the rest of the team completed 11 laps each.
- Father Ted – 5th open male team completing 44 laps in 24:24:07 – completing 11 laps each.
- Dean Barnett completed 9 laps as part of the Marston Lodge team, who were 24th in the open male category – completing 35 laps with an average laps time of 41:29.
- Simon Dixey completed 6 laps as part of the Beetroot Bombers, who were 5th in the wide open category – completing 32 laps with an average lap time of 44:43.
- Kevin Mills completed 7 laps in 5:39:11 with an average lap time of 48:48 to come 88th in the solo male category.
See link to full results and lap times:
See link to photo gallery